I spent last Sunday checking out the newly-renovated SM Southmall in Las Pinas (and was pleased with the new layout of the place) and decided to drop by my favorite record store – Odyssey – to check out their new DVD titles. I’m glad I did. I was able to buy a copy of the movie “Ben & Sam” by Director Mark Shandii Bacolod.
This movie was released during the first quarter of 2010, but the DVD Director’s Cut was made available only recently. I failed to catch it during the very limited run (during the Queer Lovefest at Robinson’s Galleria Movieworld). Anyways, I am quite impressed with the whole production. Despite the limited budget, it doesn’t show that much in the finished product. The cast was carefully selected (especially the goodlooking newcomer who played Sam – Jess Mendoza – a cross between Geoff Eigenmann and Alwyn Uytingco) and the technical values are more than decent.
The plot is simple. Ben (Ray-an Dulay) is the supposedly straight campus jock who heads the varsity basketball team, while Sam (Jess Mendoza) is one of the new students in an upscale university. The two of them met when Ben checked out his girlfriend who happens to be a classmate of Sam. They caught each other’s fancy. After spending time studying in the former’s house, they shared an apple while on bed and that unleashed Sam’s true feelings for Ben. From there, a relationship bloomed which consequently outed Ben’s true sexuality in school. He caught the ire of a teammate who doubted his capacity to lead the basketball squad. In the swirl of things, tragedy struck and punctuated what could have been an unconditional love story between the two.,
One thing that sets apart “Ben & Sam” from the plethora of local gay flicks is the presence of Theater actress Ana Abad Santos who played the role of Ben’s eccentric mother. She is a joy to watch in all her scenes. I’ve always wondered why she has not been signed in by either GMA-7 or ABS-CBN for juicy roles in their primetime teleseryes because the lady can give some newcomers a lesson or two in good acting.
Ray-an Dulay looked too old for his role but, suspending some disbelief in this regard, delivered well for the demands of Ben’s character. Even the supporting performers – Tara Cabaero, Dido dela Paz, Micah Munoz, Simon Ibarra et al – made their respective marks felt. Under the very competent direction of Mark Shandii Bacolod, he was able to lift the script of Archie del Mundo to levels worth watching.
Watch “Ben & Sam” and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.